This can be a touchy topic. The facts are that people with PTSD are more likely to attempt suicide or have thoughts about it. Many won’t want to admit it or tell others about what they’ve been thinking because they either feel like no one is there or they are afraid to. Don’t be afraid and do something to help yourself. Suicide is never the right choice or “the only way out”. I’m going to give everyone some coping strategies on how to help yourself if you are struggling with thoughts of ending your own life.
1. Stay away from weapons– This might seem like pretty common sense, but there are many things inside our homes that could be used as suicide tools. Either remove all of the threats (anything sharp and any unnecessary medication) or remove yourself from that house. People will more likely to attempt suicide if the means to do so are at your fingertips.
2. Go someplace safe– Find several places you could go where you would be the least likely to hurt yourself. Public places such as parks, gyms, malls, and community centers are all good places to go. Once there, immerse yourself in your surroundings by paying attention and being mindful of all of the details you are surrounded by, sights, sounds, and smells. This will help you distance yourself from those suicidal thoughts.
3. Utilize support– Call friends or family and talk. Talk until you can talk no more. Let them know you need their love and support right now and could really use their company- ask if you can spend time with them. You can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, it is toll free and these trained counselors will do their best to help you. 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is their number, put it in your phone and keep it just in case. Its better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
4. Call your therapist– If you are able to contact your therapist, do it. Your therapist will know what to do and will be able to help you cope when you are experiencing suicidal thoughts.
5. Make a list– Make a list of all the reasons why you shouldn’t end your life. Write down anything you can come up with, write about fears of dying and regrets you would have and think about how it would effect all of your loved ones.
6. Challenge your thoughts– It is common when you are down or depressed to have thoughts congruent with your mood and as your mood changes, so do your thoughts. Even if things feel hopeless it could just be in correlation to your mood at the time and not actually how things are. Challenge your thoughts of hopelessness. “Is there really no hope? Is it impossible for things to change? Have I felt this way before, and if so, did it change?”. Challenge yourself with questions like these and use your logical mind to help yourself out of the darkness.
7. Be Mindful– Take a step back from your thoughts and look at them objectively as if they were clouds passing by in the sky. Don’t think of them as “good” or “bad”, but think of them as nothing but objects floating in your mind. This takes away their power over your thoughts and emotions.
8. Manage your mood– There are many ways one can manage their mood, for example: you can express yourself through writing, you can meditate, you can use self-soothing coping mechanisms, etc. The point is to lessen your anxiety and sadness. Improving your mood will lessen your thoughts of, or the chance of, suicide.
9. Familiarization– Don’t wait until a crisis is upon you to try and figure out what to do, you won’t be in a such a clear state of mind. Figure out what you have at your disposal and plan out what you are going to do should you get to the point of thinking about suicide. What will you do first? If that doesn’t work, what will you do next? Have your main plan and multiple contingency plans should any one plan fail.
10. What if nothing I do works?– If nothing is working and you are not able to bring yourself back from the edge please have the courage to call the police or go to your local emergency room. It might be scary, but it is so much more important for you to remain safe and stay alive.
If you don’t have a therapist and you are experiencing suicidal thoughts it is important to be psychiatrically evaluated and to acquire yourself a therapist. Suicidal thoughts are a sign that you need urgent help with your symptoms and it is very important that you do not ignore these signs. Go to the VA, they can help you out, or you can look up local therapists in your area. Remember, There is always hope and nothing is ever so bad that you need to end your life. We are Warriors, we never stop fighting- quit isn’t a word in our vocabulary. Never give up, never surrender.